It’s a Saturday afternoon. You go to watch your favorite college football team play a game vs. a division opponent. The weather is perfect. You tailgate for an hour, have a juicy burger cooked the way you love it, a couple of beverages, even some homemade dessert. Delicious. You head into the stadium. No line, and the friendliest usher ever greets you to scan your ticket. Sit down in your cushioned seat, and find an unblocked view from a great angle. The band sounds great, cheerleaders are revving up the crowd… even the team mascot has it rolling today. The halftime entertainment is amazing – spot on, totally in sync. When the game is over, you head to the car, drive out with little to no traffic, and head back home. Terrific day.

Except – your team lost by 14 points to the underdog visitor.

So how satisfied were you with the overall experience?

Sports teams – professional and collegiate – face this question all the time when conducting event experience research (customer experience management, if you will), and it’s a fair question. After all, the purpose of the experience – the focal point – is the game. If you go to a Broadway show and the singers sing miserably out of tune, it won’t matter how nicely the usher treated you or how comfortable the seat felt. The experience won’t rate very highly. Yes, you saw a complete show, but you didn’t enjoy it.

The same can be said for sports… and that’s okay. The reality is, if you stage a game in a crummy old stadium, make the fans stand, and offer lousy concessions served by a rude and obnoxious staff, even a win won’t make the experience great. However, smart sports teams want to offer an amazing experience around the focal point (game) itself.  It enhances the value proposition, and leads to higher satisfaction.

The point is this: always look at your data in the context of the situation. You should expect lower post-event scores after a loss. You should expect even lower scores if the loss was unexpected, or especially bad, since rooting is part of the enjoyment of the game. But by trending scores and accounting for wins/losses, you can still get a clear picture of how your overall event offering appeals to attendees.

Remember – information is incomplete without context!